January heralds the arrival of tax season as Americans begin to receive their Forms W-2, 1099, K-1, etc. The fact that major tax reform promises to be a part of the Obama Administration's agenda reminds us that the tax laws and tax return preparation is as complicated as ever.
As a result, more and more people are turning to hired professionals to assist in the filing of their tax returns. But buyer beware, not all accountants and return preparers are created equal. Here are a few words of advice that the IRS has to offer:
- Be cautious of tax preparers who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers.
- Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.Use a reputable tax professional who signs the tax return and provides a copy.
- Consider whether the individual or firm will be around to answer questions about the preparation of the tax return months, or even years, after the return has been filed.
- Check the person’s credentials. Only attorneys, certified public accountants (CPAs) and enrolled agents can represent taxpayers before the IRS in all matters, including audits, collection and appeals. Other return preparers may only represent taxpayers for audits of returns they actually prepared.
- Find out if the preparer is affiliated with a professional organization that provides its members with continuing education and resources and holds them to a code of ethics.
For more information on choosing a return preparer click here and watch the IRS video below.